New Tutorial – Image File Organization Adobe Lightroom

I’ve created my first video tutorial on “Image File Organization for Adobe Lightroom”,  now available on my YouTube channel.

I’ve been playing around with this idea for a while now and I’ve finally assembled the software and hardware on the PC that allows me to do video productions.

It’s a bit of a learning curve; however, I think I have the fundamentals down.  Something to do over the long winter months. Stay tuned, I’ll be producing more of these in the future.


I Can’t Be Wasting Time Fishing

Work continues here in the office studio.

I’ve been gathering the tools I need to edit and create videos, primarily for creating tutorials on photo editing, but I do need to be able to make movies from the tons of home video I’ve created over the years, so a decent, low budget video editor is going to be needed.

Back in the day when I was a wedding photographer, I created a number of videos for clients. Almost all of that work was done on a Mac Pro using iMovie. Those days are gone, and so is the old Mac Pro. I’ll be starting all over again, though not without some knowledge of the subject and basic skills with editing techniques.

After doing a little research I’ve decided to use a program called “Lightworks“, a free and powerful video editor. This is a low budget operation, so free is the order of the day. But, my initial impression is that Lightworks is quite powerful and chock full of editing capability. It supports 4k video as well, which I’m sure I’ll eventually be moving to when I update the video camera. One has to start somewhere. Perhaps some day I’ll upgrade to something else.

The hardest part of all this is getting motivated to really get in to it. About 25 years ago, I decided to learn how to compose and create electronic music. I bought a nice keyboard/synthesizer and using a PC with a Midi connection and a program called Cakewalk, I wrote and arranged about 30 songs. I got into this fairly heavily and created a couple of albums worth of fairly decent electronic acid jazz tracks. The idea being that I’d use that music as background stuff for the video games I was creating. Yeah, I used to write programs for video games too. I actually made some money with the video games. They were written for the old pre-internet Bulletin Boards (BBS), if you can remember the days of dial-up modems. If I can find the same level of motivation for this new adventure, I’ll be making videos with a good production quality. My music and video game writing days are behind me though, relegated to a different era in my life. I’ve no interest in doing any of that these days. Been there, done it. I was pretty good at it.

Life in retirement. My brain needs to stay active so I take on these new technical challenges. I’ve sorta always been that way. I can’t be wasting time fishing.

Doing a Screen Capture Video – Test Run

I’m playing with the idea of doing video tutorials today.

Here’s a sample video screen capture showing how I organize my image files on the hard drive. There’s no audio, I don’t have a microphone, but I do have one on order.

My basic strategy for organizing thousands of image files is to store them in directories based on subject matter by year. Each directory then contains a sub-directory called “stock photos”, where I store jpg versions of the images that I have submitted to the stock agencies.

There’s more to it than this though. I do most of my organizing in Adobe Lightroom and I’ll be creating more involved tutorials once I get this mapped out and understand the best method of creating them.

For now, I created this video using a freeware program called “ScreenRec” and just saved it in mp4 format. Fairly basic stuff, but I’m liking the software and this is probably what I’ll be using as I move forward.

Something to do on a lazy Monday.

Making Copies

Photograph of a bull elk
Bull Elk in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado

The computer work continues. Chapter 3 has ended. I’ve finished the hardware upgrades early this week and immediately began working on reorganizing the photo catalogs and backups shortly afterwards.

One thing I’ve come to realize about using Adobe Lightroom’s built in backup function is that it’s not an optimal way for backing up photographic catalogs. One thing, it doesn’t actually back up the photos, but I’ve always known that. It backs up the catalog structure and settings, writing the backup to a directory with a date and time. After doing a number of backups, it’s difficult to tell which directory is which catalog without going through each of them one at a time. My old backups were organized as a massive list of dates. The most recent Lightroom software update also required that all my catalogs run through a conversion process to a new format the first time I opened a catalog after an update. What that does is make all my backups obsolete, as they were all created with the old catalog format. It’s actually much simpler to just copy the entire catalog to a backup drive using Windows explorer. That way, I can simply look at the backup directory and automatically know what each catalog is. This method takes up a little more hard drive space, but that’s the price one pays for having a lot of stuff on one’s computer. I have hard drive space.

So, I went through all of my catalogs, converted them to the new format, synchronized all the images and started copying them to an external hard drive. If a catalog corrupts on the computer, and that does happen from time to time, all I need to do is just copy the backup catalog to the internal drive and I’m ready to go, minus any changes to the catalog since my last backup. I also cleaned out all the old catalogs from the conversion process, which saved me a little hard drive space.

I have a backup program that I’ll load which I can configure to simply backup my catalogs to the external drive on a weekly basis without intervention. I’ll just have to leave the computer on the night those backups run.

This cleanup process also gave me the opportunity to examine the state of the actual catalogs and I found quite a few things that I needed to change in order to maintain consistency from catalog to catalog. Catalogs that I hadn’t worked in for some time were using the “old way” of organizing and everything is now set up using my current and best method to date, same-same from one catalog to another.

So now, I’m back to mining stock photos from those reorganized catalogs and I’ve learned quite a bit about the possible pit-falls of using Lightroom. I see a future article on using Lightroom’s catalogs in the offing. Little tiny thoughts are forming in my brain cells at a rapid pace.

The computer hardware upgrades and file reorganizations have really convinced me that I don’t need a new computer. I just need to stay on top of things. The computer is running better than it has in a couple of years and all this down time hanging out at home while the wife recovers from surgery has been productive.

One of these days I’m going to have to get out and start taking photos again. It’ll happen soon enough.


The Ice is Slowly Melting

Melting Ice On The North Fork Of The South Platte River

Yesterday’s endeavor was successful, I completed the updates to the hard drive configurations in my office computer. Whoopee!

I’m sure you’ve all been sitting on the edge of your chairs and holding your breath in anticipation of this earth shaking news. Myself, I’ve been sitting on the edge of my chair and holding my breath in anticipation of being done with it.

My 8 terabyte NAS hard drive arrived early yesterday morning. It was interesting to watch the Amazon delivery tracking status. This is the first time I’ve seen the Amazon tracking app in action, showing me exactly on the map where my shipment was on delivery day. When I first started tracking the delivery, the van was about 10 miles away to the south with me being the 4th stop on the route. The map symbol updated about every 10 seconds as the delivery made its way towards my house. It drove right by on the nearest main street, into my subdivision, around the streets to the west a few blocks over and finally made it to my culdesac, stopping first two houses around to my right and finally in front if my house. It’s pretty cool, and it’s quite timely with the updated tracking status. I was at the front door waiting for the driver to deliver the hard drive before she could get out of the delivery van.

Installing the new drive went painlessly. I’ve trimmed the internal hard drives down to a single 8 terabyte drive and a single 4 terabyte drive, plus a 1 terabyte SSD for the boot/system drive. That puts the internal storage at 13 terabytes. After some file copying and consolidation, which took up the bulk of the day, I have about 4 terabytes of free hard drive for future use and I’ve managed to remove 4 internal drives for use as file backup drives. The trick here is to have enough backup drive space that equals or exceeds the amount of free space on the internal computer disks. I’ve accomplished that as well. I have 10 terabytes of empty back-up hard drive sitting on my desk now with a 2 and 3 terabyte drive loaded in the docking station and the rest waiting for me to reformat them and get them ready for use. Plus, everything on my computer is completely backed up.

The ice is slowly melting.


Out and About

Scenic Vista From the Top of Mt. Evans, Colorado

Back to winter mode here in Colorado. This week I’m modernizing the office computer system. Being a long standing computer geek and considering that I’m never satisfied with just slapping something together, I’ve decided to review my computer file storage situation as the next installment of my computer hardware upgrades.

Today, with the grace of Amazon, I’ll be installing a new hard disk in my computer system. For some time now I’ve been using 2, 3 or 4 terabyte hard drives in my tower. This has worked fairly well for the past 5 years or so, but one thing that keeps slapping me in the face is the occasional hard drive malfunction. I have about a half million digital image files that I keep on my main system and on external drives as backups. One hard drive failure can wipe out a butt-load of image files and force me to go dig out a backup drive to restore those images once the problem is fixed.

I’ve calculated that with 6 hard disks in the system, my annual failure rate is about 1 drive a year. The new hard drive is a change of strategy for me. I’ve decided to begin replacing the internal drives with NAS SATA drives, which connect and function the same as a regular SATA disk, but are designed to run all the time with a MTBF of something like 1 million hours. That equates to 114 years without a failure. I’m not deluding myself into believing that it will last me 114 years but it should cut down on the failure rate. The new drive, the first of this type I’ll be installing is a Seagate 8 terabyte Iron Wolf/NAS drive. These drives are designed to be installed on RAID systems for network servers that run 24/7. High reliability is the design function. I’ve read that it takes them a little longer to spin up, but once up and running, they consume less energy and can run 1 million hours without a failure.

We’ll see how all that goes today, assuming the new disk drive is delivered on time as promised by Amazon (that’s hit and miss from my experience.)  It should allow me to reduce the drive count in the computer by half on this pass. If all goes well, I’ll order a second drive and will have updated my internal disk storage to about 17 terabytes. That should give me room for another half million image files in the computer. All the old drives will then be relegated to the role of backups.

It’s always good to have something to do in the winter when one isn’t out and about taking photographs. Right now, I’m not out and about.


I Don’t Need No Instructions

Hanging out in the office doing computer upgrades today.

I build my own PC’s, always have. The current system is getting a little dated by modern standards, still running a generation 4, Intel i7 cpu motherboard, which has been doing quite well. I built this back in late 2014, and I’m certain the techno-geek scrutinizers would be shaking their head at me for my lack of maintaining a modern computer architecture.  So with that fear in the back of my head, coupled with the fact that Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop won’t recognize my old graphics card’s 3D setting, I felt it was time to update things a bit.

We do have a good computer store here in town called Micro Center. I don’t order computer parts off the internet unless it’s a last resort, as I don’t want to wait for days and then get a bad part, only to have to ship it back and wait more days. Micro Center stocks just about everything and the price with sales tax isn’t much more than online parts with shipping costs. Immediate satisfaction is better. I want some and I want it now!

I just installed a Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card and a new dual-band wireless LAN card. Went pretty smooth, but that graphics card is big and it clears my PC case by about 1/4 of an inch. That’s better than being too large by 1/4 of an inch. I’ll take it.

The network card was needed because I’ve had an old wireless card in the thing since day one and my wireless LAN does 5 ghz, which I’ve never utilized on anything but my iPhone and iPad. Doubled the wireless speed for 30 bucks. I’ll take it.

The big difference is the graphics/video speed now. I’ve upped my video performance by about 50% over the old Intel on-board chip set. Both monitors are now running via HDMI, which does a good enough job. I could actually consider this a cheap gaming system now, but I don’t play computer games.

Hopefully this will keep me going for another couple of years, at which time I’ll probably spring for a new motherboard and all the nice stuff current technology offers.

In the meantime, I’m humming along with zippier graphics, zippier networking and zippier hard disk (now using a SSD on the boot drive)

Not bad for an old fart. I can still tear a computer apart and build what-ever I need and I don’t need no instructions.

May The Rut Be With You

Wild Bighorn Sheep in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

I haven’t taken a photo in over a month, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not working on them.

This time of year is Bighorn Sheep Rut season. Any other year and I’d be out in the snow looking for new shots, but I’ve decided that I’m not going to spend a lot of energy on them this year. Main reason being that I have thousands of unedited images from previous years and I’m sorta holed up at home now taking care of my convalescing wife. Top that with the fact that where I normally go for bighorn is under a lot of disruption from road maintenance at the moment , well, it’s just not sounding very interesting to me right now.

Today’s photo is a previously unedited photo from 2014, which was a pretty good year for photos. I’m mining through the old catalogs for more additions to the stock photography portfolio and this photograph is one of the recent additions.

Speaking of stock photography, I’m having a good year with sales. I did the calculations yesterday and so far I’ve sold 6,447 images in 2019. Not bad, not bad. I’m not getting rich on them, but it is a steady and reliable income, and the bighorn shots do sell frequently. That’s why I’m mining more from the old catalogs.

Got my cameras out and changed the internal clock time on them. You did remember to do your time changes didn’t you? I knew you did.

This recent blast of January weather in October/November has really put a crimp on things around here though. Fortunately the snow blower is working fine, even if my back isn’t.

Since I’ll be hanging around the house for the next few weeks at the very least, I’ll be sharing some of the “old gold” I find in my catalogs as I mine for more stock photos.

In the meantime, stay happy and stay healthy. The year is winding down and I’m looking forward to wrapping it up and getting on with next year.

We Don’t Need No Stink’n Wind Farm

Calhan Paint Mines
The Calhan Paint Mines. Unique and Colorful Ancient Geological Site in Colorado.

We are in the midst of a winter snowstorm here in the suburbs of Denver at the moment, which gives me the opportunity to spend a day in the office listening to music and editing photos. My winter routine is underway.

I’ve been working through a catalog of images taken at the Calhan Paint Mines, an interesting photographic location about 20 miles east of Colorado Springs.

For a few years some time back, I was hosting private photo tours of the Paint Mines. These days I don’t go there much, mainly because man has encroached on the location by turning the surrounding landscape into a wind farm. You’d be hard pressed to get a decent night photo there now, but in the day, it was a spectacular place to do night photography.

Wind Farm at Calhan Paint Mines
Wind Turbines at the Calhan Paint Mines

I thought I’d share some of my photos, taken before the wind farm became the primary feature of the surrounding landscape. Maybe some day, 50 years from now, they’ll tear down those ugly wind turbines and restore this ancient and unique landscape to what it should be.

Calhan Paint Mines

Calhan Paint Mines

Calhan Paint Mines

My Rodents Are Out Of Order

Marmots are common in the Rocky Mountains and are very sociable animals. They are related to squirrels.

In lieu of the fact that I’m not out taking photos this week, I’ve decided to go through some of my neglected image catalogs.

Case in point. Rodents.

Not the most glamorous subject in the photographic world, rodent photos still sell on the stock agencies though I’m not sure why.

My best guess is they are needed to fill out some type of web or print article on the subject, and as such I try to keep a good supply of nice, clear photographic depictions of the critters available for that purpose.

While going through my catalogs, I noticed that my rodent photos were not exactly organized the same way I organize most of my other photos on the hard drive. Neglect pure and simple.

Today, I’m wading through a sea of rodent photos and have been concentrating on getting my portfolio of Marmot shots straightened out.

Here’s one of them. He is now a well organized rodent.